Sandra Zimmer featured in Houston Chronicle Article on Public Speaking as a Career Tool

Today, Sunday, March 23, 2014, The Houston Chronicle Jobs Section is printing an article entitled “Public Speaking an Important Career Tool.” This article written by Emilia Benton, a copy editor from the Special Publications of Houston Chronicle Media Group, features some of my ideas about the value of public speaking skills for career development.

Ms. Benton writes -

It’s no secret that communicating well can and will improve your success in the workplace.

Speaking skills help you communicate important messages within an organization and improve and develop your leadership skills.

By improving your public speaking skills, you will eventually learn how to prepare a message for various types of audiences and occasions.

The main thing for anyone in business is to be able to communicate your ideas, insights and expertise comfortably in front of groups, said Sandra Zimmer, founder, Self Expression Center and author of It’s Your Time to Shine: How to Overcome Fear of Public Speaking, Develop Authentic Presence and Speak from Your Heart.

“Fear of public speaking is the No. 1 fear of Americans,” she said. “That fear can be converted to energy and excitement. When you learn to transform fear, it turns into the power to express.”

Read the entire article at http://www.chron.com/default/article/Public-speaking-an-important-career-tool-5337847.php#photo-6051421 .

 
 

Communication Secret to Getting Your Way

Marian Bell of www.MarianBell.com demonstrated the most powerful communication skill I know – she asked me gently for what she wanted me to do.

I buy delicious food from her each week which she delivers to my house every Monday. In order to get her food, I have to place an order each week. She really wants customer’s orders in by Saturday. But golly! Seems like it is always Sunday morning when I get around to thinking about placing the order!   I have been sending in an order on Sundays. She has graciously put up with this for a long time.

Last week, she called me on the phone. Here is what she said in the sweetest tone. “Sandra, I am calling to change your programming!” she said with a smile in her voice. “Would you please try to get your order in by Saturday at noon? I really need Sunday off. When you order on Sunday, I have to change things on my day off.”  “Just, do the best you can.”

I said YES immediately! Marian had not shamed or blamed me, nor was there any anger in her voice. We both laughed at the situation. And I got close this weekend! I got the order in by 2 pm on Saturday.  She said, “Perfect!”

When I acknowledged her for the gracious way she handled me, she said it’s all about asking for what you want. That is the secret communication technique. Simply ask for what you want and back it up with why you want it.

What do you want that you have not asked for?  How can you ask gently for it? Practice this and you will see how much goes your way.

 
 

How to Encourage People to Speak the Truth

Have you experienced that people sometimes give you excuses rather than reasons? They respond, but somehow it just doesn’t ring true? Maybe their answer just does not satisfy you?

I walked into the women’s restroom at my favorite pizza kitchen last week. A lovely young black woman was in the restroom talking on a cell phone.  She smiled as I entered. While I closed the door on a stall, I heard her say sweetly, “Is that the real reason you did that?”

I was stunned at the straight-forward question to her caller! I thought, “Wow! She knows how to get past people’s excuses and get to the real answer!” She did it with a simple respectful question.

I have no idea what she was talking to her caller about. But I do know that her conversation deepened with that person as soon as she asked her question. She took the conversation into more  authenticity and  connection without accusation or anger. she created the space for the other to consider the real truth of his or her statement.

Do you have friends, family members, co-workers who always seem to have excuses? If so, try what that skillful young woman did with her caller.  Ask them if that is the real reason they did or did not do something. I’d love to hear what happens!

 
 

Joe Kowan Sings a Song at TED to Beat Stage Fright

Oh Wow! For all of you struggling with stage fright and fear of public speaking, please watch Joe Kowan give an 8 minute TED Talk on how he beat stage fright.  Joe shares that he wrote a song to express the inner feelings of stage fright as a way of dealing with it.

Those of you who have worked with me on transforming stage fright and fear of public speaking, will recognize a similar approach.  Instead of covering up and trying to speak or perform on top of the fear and anxiety, we express it and accept it. When we are allowed a safe space to be authentic with our inner tensions, they transform into a flow state and we are suddenly comfortable in our own skin at the center of attention.

Thank you Joe Kowan for teaching us how to sing our stage fright as a way of healing! Your courage will inspire many to follow your lead.

If you are curious about my program to Transform Stage Fright into Authentic Presence so you feel free to share your ideas, insights and expertise in front of groups, please visit http://www.self-expression.com/faq_zimmer_method.shtml .

 
 

The Alchemy of Public Speaking: Turning Performance Anxiety into Presence

Alchemy is a term for turning a less valuable substance into a more valuable one.  In our physical body, we can alchemically transform performance anxiety into presence. The human body is a laboratory for transformation of consciousness.

Performance anxiety is a distressful reaction to energy trying to flow through the body when we become the center of attention. High intensity emotional energy gets stirred up in the body when we become the center of attention for speaking, presenting or performing.

Presence is a flow state of awareness in the body. Presence happens when we relax deeply into the body and maintain a full-bodied sense of being at home inside our skin. When we become comfortable in our skin, we experience a magnetically charged state of being present in this moment.

As in alchemy, we can shift one energy state into another more valuable and positive one.  We can transform the inner experience from performance anxiety into presence. That process is simple if we are willing to be authentic. It is virtually impossible if we are not willing to get real with listeners.

Here are the steps:

1.  Feel the  internal sensations of performance anxiety. Give yourself permission to experience the sensations and say yes to them.

2.  Express the inner experience outwardly somehow.  Say you are nervous or tense or anxious. Yes say it out loud! Share your inner climate with listeners.

3.  Release the tension into a feeling of flow inside your body. This starts to happen immediately as soon as your express your truth. The tension that was balled up inside starts to dissolve as soon as you give yourself permission to experience and express it. And soon you experience a lovely flow state inside your skin.

This process is so simple! The problem is that most people don’t give themselves permission to be authentic about the performance anxiety so the tension stays in the body and destroys our confidence and comfort.

OK, so you say that you can’t possibly share your speaking fears at work with you co-workers and bosses. You think they will eat you alive.  Your judgment of them holds your tension in place. I say, yes you can! Use humor to make fun of yourself.  Or share that you are nervous because you want to do a good job of contributing your ideas and expertise.

I am currently working with a web marketing company that is growing at a fast pace.  Their president intuitively uses this emotional energy alchemy for speaking to his employees and clients. He is highly sensitive and feels lots of energy when he has to speak to groups.  So he spontaneously shares he is so nervous.  within seconds, he feels safe and comfortable to speak. Then he does an inspiring job of speaking. He turns the anxiety into energy to be present with his listeners and he thrills them with his authenticity.  His employees adore him and his clients (of which I am one) know him to be a valuable partner in building their businesses.

Alchemy is a  great metaphor for turning fear of public speaking into energy, enthusiasm and excitement. The same energy felt as fear and anxiety can instantly become the feeling of presence and flow. Anyone can do this. Our bodies are channels for emotional energy. The secret ingredients are acceptance and expression.

Do you struggle with performance anxiety that prevents you from being as brilliant at speaking as you are at what you do? Give alchemy a test. Let yourself experiment by adding the potent ingredients of feeling and expressing the inner waves of tension.  Learn to ride the emotional waves inside your body and you will become a powerfully authentic speaker!

 

 
 

What can we Learn from Michael Bay’s Stage Fright?

By Sandra Zimmer

Very accomplished people experience stage fright and fear of public speaking! Witness Michael Bay, director of Transformers, who froze and walked off the stage at the 2014 Samsung Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

My mission is to help heal the world of stage fright and fear of public speaking so that people can shine when they share their ideas, insights and expertise. So, I want to write about what happened to Michael Bay.

If you have not experienced stage fright, you will not see what really happened to Michael Bay.  You might criticize him or snicker at his walking off the stage.

But if you have experienced stage fright or fear of public speaking, as I have so many times, you will recognize not only his outer symptoms, but you will also feel his pain, knowing what happened inside his body and mind.

If you have an interest in this topic, either because you have stage fright or because you help people through it, please watch this video now.

 

I write here with compassion for Michael and deep understanding of what he experienced on that stage. Here is what I see in the video and what I intuitively know happened.

Michael Bay did not trust himself to just speak.  So he (or someone else) wrote a script that he thought sounded good. The words were impressive, but not authentic, not from his inner authority. He depended on the prompter type to feed him the words. The technology failed and he could not read the words. Unable to speak from his inner authority, he froze. Valiantly, he tried to wing it but he could not find any of the words that were scripted. He also could not find his way into his heart where he could respond in the moment.  So, he did the only thing he knew how to do to save himself, he walked off the stage.

What the audience saw was a very accomplished man falter at speaking and quit. But what I saw was what happened inside Michael Bay’s mind and body. See if you recognize any of this and then watch the video again.

At first, he was OK, he performed his first line as planned.  Look carefully, you can sense he was a little nervous inside, but he could hold on to the scripted words.

Then the prompter failed! Watch him look stunned. Internally his mind froze up and his body filled up with intense feelings of tension, anxiety and fear. His body became so overwhelmed that his mental and psychophysical energy rose up through his body into his head. He went into his head. His head swelled with psychophysical energy as if he were suddenly under water. He lost his grounding and connection to his body.

Now up in his head, the self-judging thoughts took over. Thoughts of, “I can’t do this! I am not good enough!” entered his mind. With body and mind so flooded with negative thoughts and feelings, he could no longer think. Thoughts were frozen. He could not stay present in his body. The intensity inside  caused him to disconnect from the Moderator who was trying to help him. Michael Bay was gone, emotionally and mentally. So he had to leave physically as well.

For the first 40 years of my life, I experienced this anytime I became the center of attention. For the last 25 years of my life, I have been facilitating people through a process of transforming this experience. I know the thoughts, feelings and body energies like the back of my hand. I know what it takes to transform it.

The three things I know for sure are:

1. Highly sensitive and accomplished people often go though this.

2. Stage fright is not a symptom of something wrong with you, but a sign of something very right which is you are highly sensitive and passionate.

3. The passion energy which gets locked up in stage fright can transform to power and presence in the right learning environment of acceptance and allowance.

On 98 of the January 2014 issue of The O Magazine, Ashley Williams writes a very brief piece on handling anxiety. She quotes psychotherapist Tara Brach in saying, “Notice what’s going on inside you, and mentally whisper yes to the experience: yes to the anxiety, yes to the tension, yes to the irritation. With each yes, you give space for the experience to unfold.” Williams goes on to say that,  ”Letting your feelings progress to their logical conclusion helps them dissolve.”

I say yes! That exact same approach can be used to transform stage fright! Allowing yourself to experience the anxiety, saying yes to it by feeling the feelings and sharing verbally with a supportive group causes the tension to dissolve into a flow state inside the body.

This is not just a theory for me. I have been guiding people through it for 25 years. Thousands of people have gone through this with me and it works!

What I would say to Michael Bay is give yourself permission to have experienced this and to not be perfect, but do learn to transform it. You are an accomplished and visionary man. You have much to say to the world about creativity. Learn to say it from your heart without have to be perfect. To do this, be willing to go through the thoughts and feelings that come up when you are on the spot. It won’t be comfortable at first, but it will change your life.

I am Sandra Zimmer, author of It’s Your Time to Shine and founder of Self-Expression Center.  I offer group training and individual coaching that can help you transform fear of speaking and become a compelling, persuasive speaker so that you can shine when you share your ideas, insights and expertise. You can download a copy of my Grounding Exercise or an eBook version of It’s Your Time to Shine at www.self-expression.com.

 

 

 
 

Great Storytelling from the Heart of Boyd Varty Shares Stories of Africa and Mandela

As we lay Nelson Mandela to rest this past week, here is a lovely TED talk story told by Boyd Varty, a man who met Mandela as a child.

To learn to tell your valuable and inspiring stories, join my speaking group classes at Self-Expression Center or coaching via Skype.

I am Sandra Zimmer, author of It’s Your Time to Shine and founder of Self-Expression Center. I offer group training and individual coaching that can help you transform fear of speaking and become a compelling, persuasive speaker so that you can shine when you share your ideas, insights and expertise. You can download a copy of my Grounding Exercise or an eBook version of It’s Your Time to Shine at www.self-expression.com.

 
 

Revealing Your Self – How to be Open and Transparent for Public Speaking

By Sandra Zimmer

Recently, I have had several clients and students in public speaking classes who quit or tried to quit classes because I asked them to tell stories from their personal or professional lives. This has perplexed me for a few months. I could not figure out what was causing people to stop their progress in public speaking when they were doing so well in classes.

So, I took this issue into a meditation session and asked internally to be given some insight that could help me help my clients. The answer finally came to me! Some people are afraid that if they open the door to share a little about themselves they will then open a floodgate and share everything about themselves.

I recall that earlier in my life, I felt too transparent. I thought I was a glass bubble and that people could see everything about me.  It made me withhold  a lot of information form others!

This is a boundary issue. We need to give ourselves permission to share some things but not others.  We each have a few experiences or qualities that we do not want to go public. And we need to feel that it is OK to retain some things for only ourselves.

Transparency has an appropriate limit. That limit is different for different people. If you are someone who needs more privacy, then you can choose to share some of your stories but not all of them. Give yourself permission to reveal stories and qualities that show what you are comfortable showing.  Try to push your comfort level a little but don’t ask yourself to share deeper stories until you are ready to do so.

Remember that there are different levels of relationships in your life.  Be aware of your boundaries especially in a work environment. Transparency at work does not mean sharing deep personal issues with co-workers.  It means being authentic about your position on work-related topics, problems and solutions.

My coaching work is very much about transparency and authenticity because that is when people can truly impact others and shine in the world. But I am also respectful of people’s boundaries. Boundaries are what make us feel safe in the world. In order to shine, we must first feel safe being who we are in the world. The more we create appropriate boundaries, the safer we feel to share deeper parts of ourselves.

I know I talk about grounding often, but it is the one thing that can help us establish a healthy boundary. Learn to ground yourself in your body.  It will make you feel safe and strong and confident inside, so you can share yourself more fully with the world. If you want a grounding meditation to start practicing, you can watch my short grounding video or purchase the full meditation as an audio.

I am Sandra Zimmer, author of It’s Your Time to Shine and founder of Self-Expression Center.  I offer group training and individual coaching that can help you transform fear of speaking and become a compelling, persuasive speaker so that you can shine when you share your ideas, insights and expertise. You can download a copy of my Grounding Exercise or an eBook version of It’s Your Time to Shine at www.self-expression.com.

 

 
 

Believe in Yourself!

As the year draws to a close, I start musing about believing in myself more. I have a certain amount of confidence in myself, but I think I can believe and do more.

In the last few days of each year, I like to ponder what I want to do and be in the new year. It is such an obvious time to start over, to wipe away the challenges of the past year and to refocus thoughts and actions to create life as one wants it to be.

Today at the gym, I saw a TV piece on Oprah Winfrey receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Obama. My trainer and I commented on how much she has accomplished. I found myself saying to him, “It seems like Oprah has had a life where she has no barriers. There is nothing she can’t do!” I am sure that is not exactly true, but she does have the ability to create big things. I know she believes in herself.  And that is what we can all learn from Oprah.

Hmmm. What to create? There are some things I want to do with the rest of my life. And now there is nothing stopping me. I just need to believe in myself. That’s it, just believe. I can do that! Wow! Yes, I can do that! And so can you!

So my message to you is to believe in yourself. You have gifts and talents and abilities that are valuable to others. Sometimes, however, your talents are invisible to you because they are things that you do so easily and effortlessly. It is hard to value what comes so easily, but what is easy for you may be hard for others. So your easy stuff is valuable to others. All you have to do is give what is easy for you!

What if you don’t know your value, what if you don’t know what your gifts and talents are? Then start asking to perceive it. Say prayers and do meditations where you ask to see your value to others. Let the answer come to you as your desires. Watch for what you desire. Your desire will lead you straight to your gifts and talents. Then, believe it. Just believe in yourself. OK, but, what does it mean to believe in yourself? Here is what I think you have to do to start believing in yourself:

  • Step 1. Realize that you have something to give, to do, to be, that adds value to humanity, even if you don’t know what it is.
  • Step 2. Accept that it might be possible for you to contribute something to make a difference. Just allow for the possibility.
  • Step 3. Take some action by doing the first thing you can think of to move towards it.
  • Step 4. Keep following the flow of action – what’s next, and next and next. Let life take you there without knowing how it will happen.

So, for 2014, I wish us all a year of delightful adventures in expression. Let it be a year of opening to be and express all we were meant to be. And believe in yourself – BE LIVE your dreams and desires. They are the whisperings from your Soul that lead you to be more of who you are.

 
 

How to Have a Good Voice for Public Speaking and Group Communication

Most people don’t know they can have a really good speaking voice. Many are surprised when they hear themselves on a voice recorder. People often tell me they don’t like the sound of their voices. And they think they are stuck with the voice they have been used to using.

Having a beautiful voice quality is attainable and easy for most people. The secret is in learning to resonate the vocal sound waves so that they fill up the bones of the mouth, face and head. When you place the vocal vibrations properly in the mouth and face, your voice tones become rich and resonant.

Try this vocal experiment. Follow the steps below and record yourself through the process.

1. Create a large space in your mouth by dropping your jaw and stretching your face muscles forward. This should feel like you are making a forward stretching fish face.

2. Using your fish face forward posture, make the sound of HOOOO. Think Santa Claus here. Make long HO sounds.

3. Feel how the vibrations of your voice create a buzz on your hard palate which is the boney roof of your mouth. Feel how they also fill up the whole front of your facial bones.

4. Practice your HOs several times and get used to the feeling of your mouth and face filled with vibration.

5. Now speak a sentence that has lots of long “O” sounds. For instance, “Those old boats don’t float.” Or “Hold open those doors.”

6. Notice that you are retaining some strong vibratory sensation as you speak these sentences. Listen to your recorder to hear that your voice sounds fuller and more beautiful.

That is the gest of how you learn to have a rich and good voice for speaking in groups and for public speaking. Of course it takes a little more than this to use a good voice all the time when speaking. A good speaking voice teacher can teach you how to have a great speaking voice, but I want you to know it is very possible. With a little training and effort, you can have a great voice rather than just envying others who do.

Look for a voice teacher who specializes in speaking voice training. The method I teach is The Lessac Method, developed over 70 years ago by Arthur Lessac who was the top voice trainer for actors in the US. Arthur trained me personally to teach his method. He founded an institute where you can find Lessac teachers listed at www.lessacinstitute.com.

If you would like me to help you develop a great speaking voice, contact me for a complimentary consultation to determine if I am the right voice teacher for you. Learn more about voice training or request a consultation.